Changes of names, brands, suspension, and even tyres all came together on the opening pre-season day of the 2024 Moto2 World Championship overnight at Valencia. A total of 20 riders lapped within a second.
Proving the fastest was Alonso López, his 1m33.061, six-tenths quicker than the new race lap record that was set by Fermin Aldeguer on Sunday, and also quicker thant Canet’s 1m33.314 pole time, and Aldeguer’s all-time lap record of 1m33.264 set in practice over the race weekend.
Completing the top three on Monday were Aron Canet and Fermín Aldeguer, second and first in Sunday’s race in Valencia.
QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2 took to the track with its new line-up of riders. Manuel Gonzalez ended up fourth fastest in the combined timesheets with a time of 1m33.270 set in the final practice, which he topped, as he straight away showed an excellent feeling with the new team.
Manuel Gonzalez – P4
“I have to admit that this day went even better than I expected: we worked very well, the team managed to immediately understand my riding style, modifying the bike to adapt it to it. We improved even more in the last outing: we created a good feeling between us and now we have a lot of motivation to continue working well throughout the winter to prepare ion the best way for the 2024 season.”
Albert Arenas also had a positive feeling from today’s action as he kept improving lap after lap aboard the Gresini Kalex machine for the first time; he also set his quickest lap on the third and final session and was only 0.032secs behind his teammate, rounding out the top five.
Albert Arenas – P5
“First day of testing: I was a little nervous, excited to become part of the GRESINI family. I stayed focused, tried to ride well and give my best in this first meeting with the team. It was important for me to get to know each of them, and vice versa. We worked well, now we have a precise direction to work on this winter in view of the next tests. We definitely started off on the right foot, now we’ll relax a bit, ready to return even more recharged in 2024!”
Inde GASGAS Aspar riders Jake Dixon and Izan Guevara started developing the WP suspension that they will have on their bikes next season in Moto2. Jake Dixon completed a total of 56 laps, three-tenths off the benchmark set by Lopez.
Jake Dixon – P6
“It has been a good day, we have been able to test many things, but we have to continue working towards 2024 to find the best direction for the next tests.”
Team-mate Izan Guevara took steps forward in his adaptation to the category and the Spanish rider suffered chattering issues in the first two sessions before the team managed to iron that out for the final session, where Guevera improved his standing to 14th quickest, ahead of Bo Bendsneyder but just behind Aussie Senna Agius.
“I’m happy because we have a good base for the bike after having had to try many new features, such as the Pirelli tyres or the WP suspensions. It was a very difficult day because we couldn’t find a solution for the vibration at the front, we didn’t know why it was happening, but in the last session, when we fitted new tyres, I felt super comfortable, it didn’t bother me at all and the bike helped me a lot. We were able to lower my best time by three tenths and we were also three tenths off the fastest. Being able to leave the test close to the fastest riders gives us energy.”
Runner-up in the 2023 Moto2 World Championship campaign, Tony Arbolino’s bid to go one better next year got off to a busy but positive start, as the Italian completed nearly 80 laps in three sessions. Immediately finding confidence with the new Pirelli rubber, Arbolino ended with a best lap of 1m33.383, almost a second faster than his qualifying pace during last weekend’s season finale in Valencia, with the 23-year-old excited at the prospect of racing the new Pirelli tyres for the first time in Qatar’s season opener next March.
Tony Arbolino – P7
“Today has been an important test to try and recover a good feeling on the bike because it was a difficult race weekend for us here in Valencia. I have to say we did a great job because I felt confident again on the bike and that was the main objective. The first touch with the Pirelli tyres was very positive and they suit my riding style. You get a lot of feedback, and you feel so comfortable, and I think it is going to be an interesting season next year. I’m happy also to see Filip in the garage because I think we can help each other improve next season. Now I will spend the winter training hard and studying data to understand where we can be even more competitive in 2024.”
The Elf Marc VDS Racing Team welcomed Filip Salac as Tony Arbolino’s team-mate for 2024. Today’s test was very much a familiarisation exercise for the Czech rider, who was getting acquainted to his new crew at Elf Marc VDS Racing while also assessing the new range of Pirelli rubber.
Filip Salac – P17
“It has been an amazing day for me today and I want to thank the Team for giving me such a warm welcome. I’ve enjoyed this first experience in the box and immediately I have a positive feeling. The communication is already very good with my crew, and we have been able to get positive sensations from the new Pirelli tyres. I have to say my feeling with Pirelli is amazing and we also tried some set-up changes on the bike that all helped us make steps forward. The difference between Pirelli and what we have used previously in Moto2 was bigger than I expected. The front tyre I think is going to be really good for my riding style and we haven’t come anywhere near to finding the limit of their potential and I’m already quite fast. It feels like it will be slightly more difficult to manage the tyres in the race, but I think this is a great step for Moto2. Now I’m hoping that the next three months go really quick because I can’t wait to be back on the bike again.”
Darryn Binder, who on Sunday put an injury-hit first Moto2 season behind him, gathered his first impressions on Pirelli tyres from the new tyre supplier for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes. However, this was not the only focus of today’s test work, but also the new suspension elements from WP, which the team will be using from now on. The new grip characteristics meant a lot of experimentation in the three one-hour training sessions that the teams had at their disposal on another sunny day at the Valencia circuit. In the end, the South African, who began his second season with the German racing team on Monday, gave a positive summary of his first test work, which he will have the opportunity to further analyse on Wednesday at another test before the well-deserved winter break.
Darryn Binder – P19
“Overall, it was a pretty good day, I’m quite happy with how things went. It was the first time for me to ride on Pirelli tyres because unfortunately I missed the last test due to an injury. So, we rolled out this morning and all eyes were not just on Pirelli, because we also changed the suspension to WP. So, it was a bit of a combination to get first impressions. But I quickly felt comfortable and picked up where I left off yesterday, with the same lap times and so on. Most importantly, I had a lot of confidence in the tyres as they’re giving good feedback. So that means I can really understand where the limit is, or in other words, I felt safe. That was quite positive.
“During the day I made small improvements and one thing for sure is that we have a lot more grip at the rear now. But also, the front tyre has a lot more grip. But the rear is just amazing compared to before. So, our goal today was to tune the bike to that, especially with the braking, and also to adjust the engine braking so that the rear doesn’t push the front too much. So, we played with all these things and made good progress.
“Unfortunately, I had a small crash when I stayed on the gas a little too long at a corner entry, which caused the front end to tuck. Fortunately, I’m fine and overall, I’m very happy. It’s cool to have a little bit different tyres now. It will be interesting next year to see how they behave over the race distance because I feel like every time, we’ve kept the same tyre we’ve seen a little bit of drop. That’s something I’m not used to, because the previous tyres were really stable, even if they didn’t give super much grip at the beginning, but towards the end it was exactly the same. In any case, it’s going to be interesting and so far, I’ve enjoyed it a lot. At the moment we are mainly working on getting the most out of the Pirelli. We have to try to stop the bike without the rear tyre pushing the front, because it has so much grip that I had a bit of chattering at the front. But overall, we are on the right track with these tyres.”
For Binder’s new team-mate in the LIQUI MOLY Husqvarna Intact GP Moto2 garage, Senna Agius, the Pirelli tyres were no complete unknown, as the 18-year-old already had the chance to take part in the Italian tyre manufacturer’s Monday test in Barcelona in September as a replacement rider for the then injured Binder. Nevertheless, the Australian entered unfamiliar territory on his first official day as a full-time Moto2 World Championship rider and began to familiarise himself with his new crew and the new WP suspension. The newly crowned 2023 European Moto2 Champion did very well and as his team-mate he can also collect more important data for the coming season in two days on Wednesday.
For the new rider in the LIQUI MOLY Husqvarna Intact GP Moto2 garage, Senna Agius, the Pirelli tyres were not a complete unknown, as the 18-year-old already had the chance to take part in the Italian tyre manufacturer’s Monday test in Barcelona in September as a replacement rider for the then injured Binder. Nevertheless, the Australian entered unfamiliar territory on his first official day as a full-time Moto2 World Championship rider and began to familiarise himself with his new crew and the new WP suspension. The newly crowned 2023 European Moto2 Champion did very well and as his team-mate he can also collect more important data for the coming season in two days on Wednesday.
Senna Agius – P13
“It was a pretty good day, even though I had to deal with so many new things like a different crew, new tyres and a new chassis. It’s nice to come in and have a good feeling, to be competitive or in other words to have a competitive feeling with the bike.
“We tried a lot of different combinations with the suspension and different tyre options. So, I think I can be very happy with my first official day in Moto2. Tomorrow we will have a day of rest and look at all the information we gathered today in order to have a solid last day of testing this year on Wednesday.
“A big thank you to the team and everyone involved for the warm welcome. I am very happy to be here, and I think we can say that we have done a good job on our debut. The most important thing is that I feel comfortable and ready to continue on Wednesday.”
There were some other debutants in the class too, with Moto3 World Champion Jaume Masia (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) placing P12, just ahead of Australian Senna Agius (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP), who will contest his first full season of Moto2 in 2024.
Diogo Moreira (Italtrans Racing Team), Ayumu Sasaki (Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 Team), Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Xavi Artigas (Forward Team) all got their first taste of Moto2 machinery in Spain.
Ayumu Sasaki – P26
“It was a very exciting first day. It was my first day riding the Moto2 bike, and I learned so many things! I felt very comfortable with the team. They were very welcoming, and I felt good from the beginning, and step-by-step we improved. It was an amazing day – I enjoyed it like a kid; I enjoyed every moment. We have some work to do this winter, and I will do my best to prepare for the 2024 season.”
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